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India's oldest first-class cricketer Vasant Raiji no more

Last updated on: June 13, 2020 17:52 IST
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Sachin Tendulkar and Steve Waugh had visited Vasant Raiji on his 100th birthday on January 26

IMAGE: Sachin Tendulkar and Steve Waugh had visited Vasant Raiji on his 100th birthday on January 26.

Vasant Raiji, who was India's oldest first-class cricketer at 100, died in in Mumbai in the wee hours of Saturday.

Raiji was 100 years old and is survived by his wife and two daughters.

"He (Raiji) passed away at 2.20 am in his sleep at his residence in Walkeshwar in South Mumbai due to old-age," his son-in-law Sudarshan Nanavati told PTI.

Raiji, a right-handed batsman, played nine first-class matches in the 1940s, scoring 277 runs with 68 being his highest score.

 

He made his debut for a Cricket Club of India team that played Central Provinces and Berar in Nagpur in 1939.

He debuted for Mumbai in 1941 against Western India under the leadership of Vijay Merchant. The match ended in a draw with Bombay securing a first-innings lead. Later in his career, Raiji also played for Baroda.

Raiji was 13 when India played its maiden Test on home soil but managed to catch the action at the Bombay Gymkhana in 1933.            

Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar and former Australian skipper Steve Waugh had paid a courtesy visit to Raiji at his residence in January when he had completed a "century".

Vasant Raiji was cremated at the Chandanwadi crematorium in South Mumbai on Saturday afternoon

IMAGE: Vasant Raiji was cremated at the Chandanwadi crematorium in South Mumbai on Saturday afternoon. Photograph: Sahil Salvi/Rediff.com

Tendulkar condoled Raiji's demise and fondly recollected their meeting six months ago.

"I met Shri Vasant Raiji earlier this year to celebrate his 100th birthday. His warmth and passion for playing and watching Cricket was endearing. His passing away saddens my heart. My condolences to his family & friends," tweeted Tendulkar.

The Indian cricket board (BCCI) too paid its tribute.

"It is with profound sadness that BCCI has learnt of the passing of Vasant Raiji, a former first-class cricketer and historian, who had turned 100 earlier this year on 26th January," the Board said in a note on its website.

Mumbai Cricket Association President Dr Vijay Patil also expressed grief on Raiji's demise.

"I am deeply saddened by the news of the demise of Shri Vasant Raiji. I had the good fortune of meeting him on his 100th birthday where he shared his memories about our rich cricketing history through his eyes," Patil said.

"May his soul rest in peace and my deepest condolences to his family."

Former India pacer RP Singh took to Twitter to mourn Raiji.

"#RIP #VasantRaiji who was India's oldest first-class cricketer. Recently, he had celebrated his life's century with cricket legends. All-rounder in real life, Raiji was also a cricket historian and chartered accountant!"

According to BCCI, Raiji was also a founding member of the Jolly Cricket Club in Mumbai and wrote books on Ranjitsinhji, Duleepsinhji, Victor Trumper, CK Nayudu and LP Jai.

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